Adam was a tortured freshman in Archi-torture school.
The first semester of his 5-year long bachelor’s degree had just concluded, and as he slumped down in a dazed stupor on his dorm’s dusty couch, he couldn’t quite imagine himself surviving the next few terms.
It’s not as if he hadn’t expected that it would be difficult- it’s just that no one is really truly prepared for the new kind of work and endless projects that come in design school. He thought it would be hard – he didn’t know it would be hell.
“But don’t you guys just draw?”, his high school classmates would ask him when he showed up zombified during their first reunion. He wanted to flip the table – they didn’t understand. Heck, no one outside the circle of the design profession seemed to understand.
“Come on Adam, it’s just a night of drinks. Won’t it like, take you an hour to finish your drawing?”
“You’re just going to make a building pretty. Sounds easy enough”.
“Ooh, architecture. Is that…. like engineering?”
“How hard can it be?”
Horribly hard. Exhausting, mind numbing, ruthless.
The numerous all-nighters of Adam’s first semester flashed by impulsively in his mind. It stung. How many more years of this can I take? he thought.
He sighed, and thought about how excited and driven he was on his first day of classes. “What happened to that?”, he wondered grimly. And it didn’t take a long bit of reflection to pinpoint the answer: the first semester in design school was overwhelming, and his passion faded in the face of feeling constantly lost.
He realized that his confidence dwindled over time, especially during the moments that he didn’t know if his approach to the work was right or wrong – a horrible feeling indeed.
Sure, the presentation and drawing plates were an animal of a workload by themselves – but those were at least manageable. The worst part was that the sense of being lost and erratic seemed to be extra prevalent in his design studio class – which was supposed to be the most important aspect of his architectural studies.
“I’m still so clueless when it comes to design projects”, Adam silently admitted to himself. “I try to make it seem like I know what I’m doing – but I’m haphazard at best. Truth is, I could really use a bit of direction. I just need to feel like I’m sure of what I’m doing. I want to feel confident in my work and really mean what I say when I do my presentations. “.
Absorbed by his thoughts, he realized a few seconds late that his block mate Carlo slumped down on the sofa next to him. Adam turned and looked at his friend. Through disheveled hair, he knew that Carlo had just finished his deliberations for the semester’s last design plate.
“How’d it go, man?”, Adam asked.
Carlo laughed. “Like hell. I didn’t know exactly what my process was or whatever the heck the jurors asked me. I pulled some stuff out of thin air to answer their questions. I wanted to do so much but I didn’t really no how and time was running out so my final work really wasn’t anything at all, honestly. But yeah, I made my design look good so I think I did all right”.
Adam laughed along – he had done the same thing during his deliberations.
And then he sighed. He knew where he stood in terms of skill, confidence, and self-belief on his quest to be an architect.
In his first few months of being a designer – Adam honestly couldn’t even truly comprehend what “designing” meant in the first place. How do you even design “properly”?
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Adam woke up the next morning with a sense of unease.
He had but two weeks until the next semester started, and all he wanted to do was sleep and grovel over his pitiful state. But his phone rung by the table across his bed so he stood up to read his message.
“Beer at Sarah’s in an hour, G?”. It was Carlo.
Adam scratched his head. Their block just went out drinking three nights ago. And the night before that. In retrospect, it wasn’t the best of decisions given the looming deadlines, but what was done was done. “Sorry man, I’ll pass for now. Still pretty beat up from the past nights of cramming”, he replied.
Adam shook his head and involuntarily caught his image in the mirror. “Wow Adam”, he admitted to himself, “You’ve taken a turn for the worst, haven’t you?”
It was true. Sure he still looked like a normal person, but compared to his high school self, Adam experienced a sort of downward trend. It wasn’t so much that he gained weight, but it was more about how he felt every day.
Adam was part of his high school’s Frisbee team. He was agile, full of energy, strong and mobile. None of that seemed apparent anymore. Always sluggish, mind-fogged, feeling sickly every so often, and undeniably a lot weaker, Adam knew he let himself forget about his health. This shouldn’t keep up, he whispered to himself.
But, how? I’m in Archi-torture School. He heard that excuse over and over, recited in the halls of a school full of sleep-deprived zombies.
Adam took a deep breath, and put his game face back on with a strong rebound – something he hadn’t done in a long while. In that instant, Adam made a decision that he wouldn’t let this get any worse.
He’d get back on his horse and do everything in his power to make sure that history didn’t repeat himself.
While the sea was still calm, he’d take it upon himself to be better prepared for the next semester’s worth of project and torments.
He turned on his laptop, opened his browser, and typed five words.
“How do I survive architecture school?”
And with this simple effort, Adam’s rebound and ascent would begin its course.
This was the starting point to being his best self ever.
Friends, we all start from somewhere.
I personally was in Adam’s very shoes when I was a freshman.
If you’re finding your roots under a similar situation, rest assured, I created this blog to help you overcome that wall. You’re on my mind with every word that I write.
So raise your glass for the successes and temporary failures of tomorrow.
Keep moving forward, and you’ll be moving upward.